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Egypt: 75 charged over deadly soccer stadium riot

From Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, for CNN
updated 12:32 PM EDT, Thu March 15, 2012
Egyptian football supporters march in Cairo on March 15, 2012 demanding justice for those killed in stadium violence last month.
Egyptian football supporters march in Cairo on March 15, 2012 demanding justice for those killed in stadium violence last month.
  • Egypt's general prosecutor refers 75 cases to the criminal court
  • Three Al-Masry club officials and nine police officers are among those charged
  • Some suspected attackers are accused of premeditated murder and attempted murder
  • The violence at a game between Al-Masry and visiting Al-Ahly left 73 people dead

Cairo, Egypt (CNN) -- Egypt's general prosecutor charged 75 people Thursday in connection with a deadly riot at a soccer stadium last month that left 73 fans dead.

The violence broke out during a football match between Al-Masry and Al-Ahly clubs in Port Said on February 1.

Those suspected of assaulting the visiting Al-Ahly fans were charged with "premeditated murder and attempted murder," according to a statement released by the prosecutor's office.

In addition, three officials from the Al-Masry club, nine police officers, and an electricity engineer in charge of the club's Port Said stadium were described as accomplices to the perpetrators.

They are charged with "assisting the murderers," since they had prior knowledge that some of Al-Masry's fans were planning an attack on the Al-Ahly fans, the statement said.

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The policemen and officials from Al-Masry club facilitated the attack when they did not search Al-Masry fans or confiscate the fireworks, knives and other weapons that they were carrying, according to the statement.

The policemen and the club officials are also accused of being aware that thugs had penetrated the field and of not intervening to stop them when they started attacking the Ahly fans and jumped the fences onto the pitch.

Officials were also aware that the electricity engineer charged in the case switched off the stadium lights directly over the Ahly bleachers immediately after the referee's final whistle to facilitate the attack, the statement said.

Adel Saeed, the spokesman for the general prosecutor's office, told CNN that the electricity engineer told investigators he was ordered by a senior police official to switch off the lights.

Saeed told CNN that of the nine policemen charged, six generals and one major are currently detained in Port Said for their alleged role in the violence. He said 68 witnesses testified against the accused.

Saeed said some of the Al-Masry fans had planned the attack, with thugs using rocks, knives, sharp objects, and weapons in their assault on the Al-Ahly fans.

Two minors among those charged were referred to juvenile court.

Several thousand supporters of Al-Ahly, as well as political activists, marched from the Cairo football club to the office of the general prosecutor on Thursday, in commemoration of those who died at the Port Said stadium.

They called for justice and punishment of those responsible.

An appeals court will decide shortly on a date for a first hearing in the case, Saeed said.

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